CMS announces moves to cut red tape, ease burdens for Medicare providers

Source: McKnight’s – Marty Stempniak

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a proposed package of changes to its programs Monday, which it hopes will lift some of the regulatory burdens off providers’ shoulders.

All told, those program revisions could save healthcare organizations about $1.12 billion each year. The switches, officials said, are focused on simplifying and streamlining participation in Medicare.

The National Association for the Support of Long Term Care called proposed changes a “huge win” for its members. NASL touted one “key” provision in the rule that would modernize the ordering process for portable X-rays. The current regulations are more than 40 years old, the association noted and changes would give skilled nursing facilities much more flexibility. 

“With the rise in use of electronic health records, and more focus on reducing rehospitalizations, this proposed rule makes it clear that an order for portable X-ray could be in writing, by telephone or by electronic methods,” NASL Executive Vice President Cynthia Morton told McKnight’s on Monday.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma’s  said Monday that the administration goal is to modernize Medicare by removing any regulations that are “outdated and burdensome.” It estimates that long-term care providers could save $497 million, or 6.6 million hours of work, over the next three years, if the changes go forward as suggested.

“The changes we’re proposing will dramatically reduce the amount of time and resources that healthcare facilities have to spend on CMS-mandated compliance activities that do not improve the quality of care,” she said in a statement.

fact sheet that accompanied the proposal breaks down how different provider types will stand to benefit from changes. Switches include streamlining the hiring process for most hospice providers, replacing an outdated requirement that has hospices provide a physical paper copy of policies and procedures, and encouraging more seamless integration of the hospice’s drug management expert into interdisciplinary group meetings.

The proposed rule also offers changes to requirements for emergency preparedness, as CMS aims to “reduce the complexity of the requirements to ensure that providers are spending more time and resources on actual patient care.”